Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA
Back in 1994, the captain of the England cricket team was a chap called Michael Atherton. After television pictures appeared to show him applying dirt to the ball, Atherton insisted he had put some dust in his pocket to keep his hands and the ball dry. He said he was seeking to protect the condition of the ball.
The match referee fined Atherton £2,000 – quite a considerable sum at the time.
Atherton was neither banned nor suspended. He was not removed from the England captaincy. No one seemed to think much of the `dirt in the pocket’ saga. Atherton is now employed by The Times and Sky Television as a cricket commentator.
Now, flash forward to 2018 and look at the difference…
Three Australian players admit to tampering with the ball. The player who was directly involved used a small piece of sandpaper. It was a bad thing to do. I was shocked when I heard about it.
The players have been suspended. Smith has lost the captaincy. Warner lost the vice captaincy. The player with the sandpaper, Bancroft, has lost his place in the team. All three have lost lucrative contracts.
And that should have been the end of it.
But it hasn’t been the end of it.
The media has been all over these three players.
You’d have thought they had been found guilty of genocide and paedophilia instead of trying to cheat at cricket. The three players have been vilified. Pictures of Smith in tears have appeared endlessly. And the trolls of social media have been having a field day.
For heaven’s sake, what happened to compassion?
The sandpaper three were naughty.
But how naughty?
I would put their crime just below that of the bastards who park their cars across the white lines in a busy car park – and take up two spaces.
I’ve been a cricket fan for 65 years. I’m an MCC member. I was shocked when I heard what Smith, Warner and Bancroft were accused of.
But I am now even more shocked by how they have been treated by the world.
Enough is enough.
Whatever happened to humanity and compassion?
Gone, I fear.
Blown away by our critical, unforgiving age.
And finally, here’s another thought: is it not possible that these three sorry souls decided to cheat because the pressure to win at all costs overwhelmed them?
And where did that pressure come from?
Social media, of course.
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2018